PROTECTION FROM VIOLENCE
For many children and youth, staying at home due to lockdowns did not equate to staying safe. In interviews with children at the height of the first wave, 81% saw an increase in violence at home, online, or in their community. Additional stress on families triggered by the rise in unemployment and the loss of livelihood is strongly linked with higher risk of violence against children. With movement restrictions, social isolation and school closures added to the mix, high-stress home environments are created. This can lead to increased child abuse, neglect and abandonment, resulting in the need for emergency or longer-term alternative care. In our family strengthening programmes this year, we learned that the groundwork laid prior to COVID-19 helped most families to withstand the added pressures of the pandemic and not resort to violence. That groundwork included workshops on how to use non-violent discipline with children, psychological counseling to help parents deal with their own traumas, as well as other measures to reduce strain, such as livelihood support and help in accessing services. Now more than ever, families at risk of breaking down need additional support. By addressing the root causes of child-family separation, government and society can help families to stay together and ensure that children grow up in safe and healthy family relationships.